February Blooms on the Country Mouse Ridge

Well, it's the late late bloom show here on our wild ridge-top, six miles inland from the wonderful Monterey Bay!

This is one of a pair of posts - Please also check out Town Mouse's suburban garden blooms.
I'm just going to annotate the photos in whatever order they uploaded - it's all good in whatever order encountered!

Our local wild manzanita - Arctostaphylos tomentosa crustacea, blooming all over the south facing chaparral slope
A deeper red variety of pink flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum, than you often see. I think I got this at the CNPS plant sale several years ago, and forget the variety.
Our local wild manzanita - Arctostaphylos tomentosa crustacea,  en masse

Dutchman's pipevine - Aristolochia californica, which we plant in the Bay Area and beyond in hopes of encouraging the pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor hirsuta) whose larvae rely on this plant. It could happen!

Quite a cluster of dutchman's pipevine blossoms - but only in one part of the vine...

The Aristolochia californica vine is really bare - both because of the time of year, and maybe also just state of this particular vine. I might just coppice it this year, not sure. It grows in a lot of places in the garden and is leafier elsewhere.

Wild bee plant volunteering in the garden! Scrophularia californica. I love its tiny but profuse flowers. It also has nice foliage, big leaves, very green. But it does tend to sprawl.

Speaking of tiny blossoms - this year the Catalina currant is going gangbusters. Usually the blossoms on this Channel Island native are insignificant but you can really notice them this year. I love this currant - I've met others who don't. I can't understand why! It's a semi-shade lover, with smooth round little leathery leaves. It roots where it touches ground, too.

I wandered lonely as a cloud - and there they were, daffs popping up all over. Or words to that effect. Many of us living here love daffodils - because none of the critters do! And they don't spread anywhere, just pop up each year to brighten the early spring. We plant quite a lot along the road.

Chapparal currant, Ribes malvaceum, purchased plant. I thought there were no native  Ribes growing wild around here - I just saw one last week half a mile away. GRR! Course I don't know if its a local endemic one or a seed from one of mine that got pooped out over there. I have Ribes popping up all over my property now - not quite sure what sort; I'll have to take some to our chapter's "keying club" and see if we can key them out. Because there were no local ones, I decided to plant all kinds of varieties for their beauty in late winter/early spring. Now I sort of regret doing that. it would have been fun (my kind of fun) to have the local native one blooming all over and be able to share it with neighbors.

Coast sunflower, Encelia californica, a Southern California native that definitely doesn't grow natively around here - brightens up the corner of my garden, a huge spreading low shrub (or woody perennial) that the birds love to scratch around in.
A lurid rose - not sure what setting my camera got stuck on here! It's the one single rose bloom in the garden. I told my husband this was his Valentine's Day flower (as I drove off with my daughter and granddaughter to stay overnight with a friend and her daughter and grandson)!

Pink blossoms, and "fatter" inflorescences - is it Arctostaphylos tomentosa crustacea, or do we have two types of manzanita here, hybridizing naturally? I don't know yet.
More local wild manzanita - Arctostaphylos tomentosa crustacea, or possibly a close relation to that species! - Maybe I can take a little branch of this to the keying club, too. Dense clusters of flowers. I'm showing a lot of manzanita blossoms cos they are great, and also cos that's what we are seeing such a lot of right now!

Buds of sugar bush, Rhus ovata, another Southern native. Troublefree and attractive in my garden. Bert at Las Pilitas Nursery has a discursive entry for this plant on his plant description page, branching out into fire safety among other things.

Ribes indecorum, white flowering currant or white chaparral currant, is one of the most happy ribes on my property. It's a Southern Cal native, purchased at one of our fine CNPS plant sales - for wonderful plant purchases, look up sales in your area of California every fall and spring.
The whole Ribes indecorum enchilada! I wish I had planted this where I didn't have to prune - as it is it grows to about 8 X 6 feet every year.

Ribes speciosum, fuchsia-flowering gooseberry. It's a prickly one, but oh! those dramatic jewel-be-dripping boughs!

Another Ribes sanguineum, pink flowering currant. These are native up and down the coastal counties and in a few other spots. They like a little shade and more moisture than the chaparral currants.

I took almost all the rosemary out from around my dad's cottage beds, but this one tumbles so nicely over the wall. The others had gotten old and woody and were just too much dry shrubbery growing up the walls of the cottage for comfort.

"Bees Bliss" salvia, a hybrid that has been growing in this spot for about six years. Tough as nails once it gets established and extremely drought tolerant. In a couple other spots where I tried planting it, it is not so happy, and I'm not sure why.

This is one of those Ribes that is growing naturalized/wild down in the shady north valley. It has an exfoliating bark, which you can sort of see in the photo, smaller leaves than R. sanguineum, and pink flowers. More like R. malvaceum. All the ones growing there are like this. There once was a currant growing wild down here -\ but it died before I could propagate it. Now I don't know if these are local natives or hybrids or what.

Last and not least, a western redbud, Cercis occidentalis, which I planted many years ago now - well about 6 or 8. It's looking particularly happy this year. Deer do chomp on it when they are in the mood, but so far so good. Not locally native along the Central Coast region, but found widely elsewhere in California and other places in Western America.

Late as it is, I'll register this post on the February May Dreams Gardens Garden Blogger's Bloom Day post, in case anyone might like to look up what natives bloom in February on the Central Coast of California, via that wonderful posy of bloom posts!

I'm updating this post late in the day - I looked out my window and realized I had forgotten to look UP at the Madrone! So here you go...

Arbutus menziesii - Madrone - in bloom


Jason said…
I love currants both for the birds and as ornamental plants. It's wonderful that you four attractive species! I also like the Manzanitas, and love the way the rosemary is blooming.
I have no less than two volunteer Ribes by the back step. I have no idea what they are, although they are starting to push their leaves. I keep staring at them hoping they'll bloom, but they seem to be holding back so far.

Your Dutchman's Pipevine looks great. I haven't seen mine yet this season. I'm with you on Catalina Currant. I love it, but it does so well here, despite the fact I completely ignore it all year. What's not to love?!

I can't believe your Scrophularia is blooming already. We definitely seem to be at least a couple of weeks behind you at the moment. What a difference a valley, versus a ridge, makes! You'll see, if you get a chance to stop by my post today, that my Salvia's aren't as happy as yours either!
Town Mouse said…
Wow, life is different up there in the banana belt where you live! I'm so impressed with all the beautiful blooms - maybe I'll see them in person some time soon.
Beautiful ribes and redbud! You guys are such an inspiration.